Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend wrap: Deadline day arrives

A look back at the biggest games and emerging story lines of the NHL weekend.

Theme of the Week: Deadline Day Arrives

Today is trade deadline day, with a 3 p.m. ET cutoff for teams looking to make a deal. And after a very busy weekend, there may not be much excitement left.

We ran a full preview on Thursday. Here’s a quick roundup of the deals we’ve seen since then.

The Rangers went all-in: New York landed arguably the biggest name available, acquiring Arizona’s Keith Yandle in a blockbuster. But the Rangers paid a big price, giving up an excellent prospect in Anthony Duclair and next year’s first-rounder. The Coyotes retain half of Yandle’s salary, which makes him an excellent value, and he’s signed through next year, so this isn’t a straight rental. But it feels like an all-or-nothing gamble for New York, and maybe that makes sense for a team that was just a few bounces away from a championship last year. The Rangers also acquired James Sheppard from San Jose, sent Lee Stempniak to Winnipeg, and have reportedly agreed on a new deal with Mats Zuccarello.

The Blackhawks loaded up: Chicago added two of the top players available, in Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen. Vermette is a solid two-way player who won’t replace the injured Patrick Kane, but will play strong middle-six minutes. Timonen hadn’t played a game for the Flyers this season due to blood clots, but is reportedly healthy now, and if he can play at the same level he was at last year, he could be the deadline’s best acquisition. He’s a gamble, sure, but a high-reward one that certainly looks good from the Hawks’ side.

The Lightning made their moves: Steve Yzerman stayed up late last night, pulling off a pair of deals. He sent Brett Connolly to Boston for two seconds, and then flipped a first, third, and Radko Gudas to Philadelphia for Braydon Coburn. That’s a pretty clear net gain for the Lightning, who remain one of the co-favorites in a hard-to-call East.

The Maple Leafs traded David Clarkson: Hours after I wrote that it was impossible, the Leafs found a way to trade the league’s worst contract on Thursday. And somehow, it made perfect sense. The Blue Jackets had Nathan Horton’s contract clogging their books; Horton isn’t expect to ever play again due to back problems, but his deal was uninsured, so the Jackets were on the hook for every dollar of it. So they swapped him for Clarkson, a player who’ll actually suit up for roughly the same money. And the Leafs get eventual salary-cap relief thanks to the LTIR. It’s brilliant.

The Panthers (?) got Jaromir Jagr: We expected Jagr to be moved, although the idea was that he’d go to a contender and the Panthers sure don’t seem like one. But Jagr winding up in Florida, even at the cost of a pair of decent picks, could put the Panthers over the top in the chase for the East’s final wild-card spot.

Washington added Curtis Glencross: The Flames forward was expected to be on the move, and he didn’t come cheap, with the Caps giving up a second and a third in this year’s draft. With Washington all but locked into a playoff spot, the team is thinking postseason depth here.

The Red Wings landed Erik Cole: Having lost six straight to fall out of the race, Dallas sent the veteran forward to Detroit for a pick and a pair of decent prospects. The Wings still need blue-line help and may not be done.

The Habs added Jeff Petry: There may not have been a more divisive player available; the old school doesn’t like his game much, but analytics types love him. The Habs got him for a second and a fifth.

The Maple Leafs traded David Clarkson: I know I mentioned that already. I just really enjoy typing those words. I promise it won’t happen again.

The Ducks added Tomas Fleischmann: The Ducks get a useful player. The Panthers get a draft pick. The rest of us get to say, “Wait, Dany Heatley is still playing?” I’d call that a win all the way around.

A few other smaller deals: Tim Gleason! Spencer Abbott! Adam Cracknell! Carl Klingberg! You are vaguely aware of who some of these people are!

The Maple Leafs traded David Clarkson: I lied.

So with all of those deals done, what’s still left on the table for today? Well … not much, to be honest. But here are a few names to watch.

Chris Stewart: The Sabres power forward has been on the block for a year now, and should have several bidders.1

Most of Toronto’s roster: It sounds like the odds of a Phil Kessel deal are close to zero, while a Dion Phaneuf move is unlikely but still in play; action around both players could pick up near the draft instead. Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, and maybe even Jonathan Bernier are in play, although it’s possible that nobody of any significance gets moved.

Patrick Sharp: Well, this one was fun while it lasted, at least. First the Blackhawks star was on the block. Then he wasn’t. Then he was threatening legal action. So, nothing to see here, apparently.

Zbynek Michalek: Oh, right, the other Coyotes defenseman. He’ll probably go somewhere, and the way Arizona GM Don Maloney is going, it will be in exchange for a lot more than you’d think.

The Maple Leafs traded David Clarkson: I may need help.

Cup Watch: The League’s Five Best

The five teams that seem most likely to earn the league’s top prize: the Stanley Cup.

5. Detroit Red Wings (35-15-11, plus-21) The top of the East remains a pick’em, but an impressive road win over Nashville earns the Wings a temporary spot.

4. Anaheim Ducks (40-17-7, plus-12) This Corey Perry goal is so filthy. You really need to stick around for the last slow-motion replay to appreciate it.

>> Read the full post on Grantland

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